Thursday, November 15, 2007

Googlies: India-Pak Series, A Nervous Tendulkar and A Mis...Bah!

Tendulkar has missed six centuries in this year, after crossing the score of ninety. Today, it was another instance where a drinks break dented the set batsman's concentration. It was just enough for him to be out in the over that followed it. The jinx is in the drinks maybe. Tendulkar was playing beautifully today and also the other day, when he failed to cross the thresh hold. Tantalizingly close and yet not there! Maybe Yusuf regretted his watchfulness when he finished on 99 not out today. Maybe Tendulkar has an anxiety attack as soon as his score approaches 100. He has too many already. But we know, out friend waited for more than seventy one day matches before he got his first century. It is the circle of life then!

Dhoni and Yuvraj form a formidable combination on any day, against any team. But I guess they have a knack of doing it most often as partners against Pakistan. We have made a Butt of jokes about the Pakistani who score centuries only against India. Today he made a duck that was cheered more loudly than his score which has only an extra zero and a limp one in front of it. I have loved every moment of Kamran's batting in this series, for he has been the most insipid wicketkeeper ever from Pakistan. Moin Khan and Rashid Latif had given Pakistani wicketkeeping a vigor that got under the skin of batsmen, when they were behind stumps, and defied the most batting textbooks when they were wielding the willow. Akmal has been spot on, in India's favor.

Afridi took us out of the game in Mohali, but Pathan got him in last match. This time it was Ganguly, who scored his slowest century today. While he reached 100 wickets, Zaheer Khan crossed 200 mark. The bowling was quite good today, and Harbhajan was exceptional. Pakistan hasn't dominated in any game, and India has bounced back from difficult positions with the elasticity of tennis ball. I remember that as a child growing up in Himachal (Himalayas), any six, four or misfield meant that we lost the ball downhill somewhere. So the best balls were made out of sacks or socks and these showed uneven bounce at its best. When a bowler was under attack, he could just wet the ball, and it would die without a bounce. India cricket team under attack used to behave like those wet sack balls, but this new team is made of sterner stuff. When Bhajji was bowling, the bounce was quite uneven, and there was an instance or two, where the ball refused to get to one third of the expected bounce. I guess the dew factor helped us, else that bounce could have got us. Anyone remembers the India-Sri Lanka World Cup semifinal, where India was supposed to chase on such a dying, dusty, dead pitch. I thought that was a lesson enough for pitchmakers!

Lets return to the Tantalizingly Close, but Not There. Mis...Bah! I guess the problem is in his name. The ul-Haq helps him score runs, and dominate the bowling for some time. He gathers runs from every inconceivable stroke and rushes towards a victorious score. He punches, pushes, nudges, edges, pulls, loops, glances and clubs the bowlers. He gets his strike rate up and up and up, the required run rate down and down and down. And then, when he is finally there, so close to the goddess of victory, he is as helpless as a teenage lover, tongue-tied before his beloved, who needs that last expression, that last stroke before the dance of delight can begin. He hits hard, he runs fast, he steals fours, he finesses threes and then, when he is almost there, its a Mis....Bah!

I am inspired to write a poem about him, but I just parody a poem by T. S. Eliot. (original poem is Macavity: The Mystery Cat)

Misbah's a Mystery Bat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
For he's the crafty hitter who can defy Newton's every Law.
He's the bafflement of Twenty-two Yards, at the Death, Bowler's despair:
But when Pakis approach the victory line - Misbah's not there!

Misbah, Misbah, there's no one like Misbah,
He's broken every batting law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
But when Pakis reach the finishing line - Misbah's not there!
You may seek him in the replays, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again, Misbah's not there!

Misbah's a ginger bat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his helmet is highly domed;
His trousers dusty from neglect, his hair nicely combed.
You meet him in the forty ninth over, you may see him when score is square -
But the last hit, & there's the wonder of the thing!, Misbah's not there!

Misbah, Misbah, there's no one like Misbah,
There never was a Bat more devout follower of Allah!
He always has a stroke, and maybe one or two balls to spare:
But whenever the winning single was needed - MISBAH WASN'T THERE!
And they say among all the Bats whose last minute heroics are widely known
(I might mention Javed Miandad, I might mention Michael Bevan)
Were not half as remarkable as this Batsman of our the time
Who races Pakis to the edge: never across the finishing line!

1 comment:

Vivek Sharma said...


gkpsree comments: on 16 Nov 07 10:05:00 AM
delete this comment - block this user
Hi Vivek,
Good accurate observations!!
The mis-bah poem is great!!
I fear Mis-bah has done to Pakistan what Chetan did to India -
The uncertainity of a win till the last ball or snatching defeat from tthe jaws of..
And this time we are on the driver's seat!!
Naked Cricket comments: on 16 Nov 07 09:49:00 AM
delete this comment - block this user
Hi Vivek,
If it was anything India owed Pak, it was an ode to Misbah. You did it. I was all primed, sat to write, but in true Misbah fashion, I just couldn't wrap it up.
But really this Misbah mantra is like one of those stuck records - watch any game, and he's there till the bitter end - really think they should make him open, could well get a very big score. In a losing cause naturally : )

« Back to Post
Vivek Sharma comments: on 16 Nov 07 10:32:00 AM
delete this comment - block this user
Thanks Naked Cricket and Gkpsree;)

Misbah is awesome, and I felt bad about making a parody of him, for the guy actually tries his best and really does take Pakistan from a state of utter hopelessness to almost there. Yet there are lessons there: No matter how hard you try, a victor is the one who manages to cross the victory line. Yet, all the same I respect everyone who goes down fighting.

He is a tragic hero. I love him for it.

May he win matches against other teams, and continue this form against India;)